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News and Commentary on Land-based Investment

EPA Proposes Clean Water Act Rule that Expands Waters EPA Regulates

Last week the EPA announced a newly proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule that expands the waters under the EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  There were U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 which defined waters EPA could regulate.

The court in these rulings determined the EPA needs to establish a connection or “significant nexus” to jurisdictional waters by tributaries or other waters in order to fall under EPA regulation authority.  The rule would exclude many upland water features from the Clean Water Act that are unique to farming and forestry.

The proposed rule change would expand the inclusion of seasonal and intermittent streams as jurisdictional waters.

Whit Fosburgh of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership points to the favorable protections to hunting and fishing included in the proposed changes.  “After the Supreme Court decisions we saw a dramatic loss of wetlands.  Some 60% of headwater streams are not protected, Fosburgh said. Wetlands provide buffers for flooding, and “headwater streams — that’s where all the fish come from. Streams may go dry certain times of the year, but it doesn’t mean they’re not important.”

Larry Schweiger, President of the National Wildlife Federation also applauded the clarification of waters protected – “We simply cannot protect ourrivers, lakes and bays without protecting the many small streams and wetlands that feed into them. Drinking water supplies for more than one-third of Americans will be safer once this rule is put into place.”

Although wildlife leaders applauded the proposed rule, others see it as an assault on private property rights.  This includes U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La, who commented last week:  “The ‘waters of the U.S.’ rule may be one of the most significant private property grabs in U.S. history,” Vitter said in a statement.  “Today’s rule also shows EPA picking and choosing the science they use. Peer review of the agency’s connectivity report is far from complete, and yet they want to take another step toward outright permitting authority over virtually any wet area in the country, while at the same time providing a new tool for environmental groups to sue private property owners.”

Read more here at DTN Progressive Farmer

This entry was posted in Agriculture, Biodiversity, colorado land, Conservation Banking, ecosystem services, Farmland, In-Stream Flow, Ranches, Ranching, Recreational Land, Timberland, U.S. Farmland, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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